Nottingham went a bit Femmetastic last month as Maltese rock duo Fuzzhoneys took their unique blend of blues and rock to England – the latest leg of their tour after a successful concert held at the Salesian Theatre in March.
“Femmetastic has been a word we have been using since the launch of CD Tal-Ġenn,” Caroline Spiteri, one half of the duo, said as she spoke about the name of the tour. “It stuck out for us and we wanted it to stick to us so much that we wrote a song to interpret what the word meant to us.”
For them, this trip was actually the third one abroad within the space of a few months, both a sign of their desire to expand their audience and of their growing confidence as musicians.
Francesca Mercieca, the other half of the duo, picks it up: “Following our Italian gigs in October, we had been listing various options, venues as well as asking all the people I know that lived abroad on their local scene.”
“We had been seeing options for a while until a friend of ours was in Malta for a few days, and when we met I couldn’t stop blabbering about Femmetastic. We asked if she wanted to come hear us for the rehearsal the next day and I mentioned it.”
After that, everything started falling into place. “I had five days off my usual work life to plan a tour with Fuzzhoneys,” says Caroline. “We were lucky enough to have a good friend living in Nottingham who helped us book most of our shows as well as sort out our accommodation. Asking fellow Maltese musicians such as Kriz (of Beesqueeze fame) for more contacts, and even having musicians from the UK contacting us themselves helped us book the rest of the dates with gigs.”
Foreign shows will always have a different kind of stress mixed with buzz
“We set up the whole thing with good planning and dedication thanks to all the contacts and their support for the music,” Francesca says.
The girls and their initiative grew into more than just planning their itinerary… collaborating on video with Jenny Mercieca for a promotion based in Nottingham, along with making the poster designs from scratch with Victoria Callus. The duo even had their own femmetastic roadies with Fran Borg and Victoria Callus on site through the whole trip – helping with merchandise, door entrance, equipment and surely providing glitter at all times.
The hard work paid off with a series of gigs that won them a set of new fans. “It was excellent,” says Francesca. “I love how the crowd can change from beginning to midway of the gig when they are enjoying it.
“The space affects too. If it closes early, people need to catch last buses and before you know it everyone’s disappeared! As a whole it’s really exciting because you never know what to expect.”
Caroline says: “Foreign shows will always have a different kind of stress mixed with buzz as you feel thankful to be going through such an adventure but at the same time you always fear that these unfamiliar faces would not accept you.
“However, the feedback has always been a positive one and that makes the tour more worthwhile as your music is being heard and enjoyed. Having already experienced playing abroad (Malta Takes London in London and Karel Music Expo in Cagliari) we were less tense and more excited to be travelling together as a band again.”
A relative novelty for them was taking part in a house concert when they performed an acoustic rendition of five of tracks in a friend’s living room. “It was funny and entertaining.”
“There was a good mix of everything, including the merchandise stand in the kitchen, singing on the roof, and photo sessions by Ian Aquilina. The whole thing was good fun,” Francesca says.
The concept of house concerts – where people host musicians in their homes for intimate concerts – is one that is gaining in popularity both in America and across Europe. Could it be likewise in Malta? Caroline is not that hopeful. “Anyone can hold a party in their house until the neighbours start complaining and call the police to stop you.” Francesca says: “Any concept for more venues is good.”
“It would be better if it’s a farmhouse, a rooftop or a big van of some sort – maybe even during the day. What we need is people who host their flat or home.
“It was fun that it was a good mix and they weren’t all intimate or too quiet just because they were acoustic and it started around six in the evening. Fuzz on!”